You are here

Farewell IES Abroad Tokyo

December 16, 2017

Thursday | December 14th 2017 | Higashi-Funabashi, Chiba

Today we had our last IES Abroad Tokyo party with the IES Abroad students, staff, KUIS faculty, KUIS students, E-pals, the lovely homestay families, and everyone in between. Though it was a simple and heartwarming gathering, none of my emotions felt simple. They were complex, confusing, and for the majority of the night, surreal. I wonder if others felt this way, but the entire experience felt surreal, as if I were not really there in the moment. It felt as though I was like a ghost, hovering over everyone as they hugged, said goodbye, and signed each other’s yearbooks. Instead of living in the moment, living as an IES Abroad Tokyo student saying goodbye, I was an observer. I was watching everyone experience these things in a way that felt unfamiliar to me. My entire semester in Tokyo has been defined by living in the moment, by spontaneity, by being always down, by being part of a larger group of friends. And yet, in the final moment, I was forced to reconcile with myself. In a room with people I love who love me I somehow felt isolated — not necessarily in a bad way but it was a very reflective moment.

Tokyo_Matsuo_Allen Chen.jpg

Tokyo_Farewell Party_Allen Chen.jpg

Tokyo_Yearbook_Allen Chen.jpg

 

In my own mental space I had to reconcile with my flying home. As I put pen to paper in someone’s yearbook, it became more real that I wouldn’t be seeing them everyday. It became real that we would not be riding the packed trains together in the morning. We would not be walking to KUIS anymore. No more hangouts in the IES Abroad Tokyo center, no more Tokyo period, none of it.

Tokyo_Luggage Last Train_Allen Chen.jpg

 

Of course I’m sad about it, but I wonder if I didn’t feel much in that moment because I knew how strong our friendships were. Does that make sense? Given how confident I feel in the strength and longevity of the relationships and friendships I’ve cultivated this semester, I had no doubt in my mind that these connections would last beyond Japan. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t able to fully exist in the moment at the party. In some twisted way I knew this was not the end. Sure, maybe it’s the end in terms of formality, but there is always another hangout with the IES Abroad Tokyo family.

Tokyo_Last Train_Allen Chen.jpg

 

Study abroad is a tricky institution and phenomenon. For a few months of your life, you open your mind to another culture, live in the moment, and really devote your entire self in order to get a fulfilling experience. While one could downplay the overall experience as pointless given its temporality (why am I making all these friendships if I won’t see them ever again?), I wonder if that attitude is harmful towards one’s overall experience. Because for me, this isn’t temporary. I’m seeing Tokyo friends in January back in LA already. We’re already making mental promises to come back to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. And of course, a cynic would say these plans are idealistic and will fall through — to that point, it’s a very realistic possibility. I’ll own up to that, I’m pretty cynical myself. Of course these relationships could really all be temporary. But, the tight-knit community cultivated by IES Abroad Tokyo is real. It’s palpable, and I’m confident, hopeful, and ready to put in the emotional labor to sustain these friendships beyond this semester.

Tokyo_Odaiba Ferry_Allen Chen.jpg

 

Thank you to the IES Abroad Tokyo staff who were all our parental figures for the semester. Without your guidance, energy, and friendliness, my time abroad would be drastically different, and for the worse. But you all welcomed us into Japan with open arms and we all became like family within the first few weeks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Tokyo_Odaiba Group_Allen Chen.jpg

From Our Blogs

Mar 21 12:57pm

My Trip to Ghana!

by Nia

This past week, I had the pleasure of traveling to Accra, Ghana with my home school, Howard University. I am a part of the fourth cohort of the Global Trilateral MBA Program, which connects students at multiple institutions around the world as we engage on consulting projects for real companies.

Learn more
Mar 21 12:44pm

Get Off Your Phone!

by Johnna

There’s one thing that the millennial generation can often unanimously agree on: our fingers are glued to our phones. It’s entirely apparent that today, the world is based around technology. This of course has its positives, but it also comes with an abundance of negatives.

Learn more
Mar 21 10:10am

An American in France

by Genevieve

Being an American in France looks different for just about everyone.

Learn more
Mar 20 10:56pm

Keen on getting involved

by Cat

It's three weeks into the semester at the University of Auckland, and I have started to become active in clubs and activities on campus. I play field hockey for the University of Rochester, so coming to New Zealand I knew I wanted to get involved in club field hockey here.

Learn more
Mar 20 4:22am

What I'm Learning in Rome

by Livia

We can’t forget the ‘study’ part of ‘study abroad!’

Learn more
Mar 19 8:49am

Estudiantes de Granada (Students of Granada)

by Michelle

Granada is a city that attracts a special kind of people. People here are looking to become immersed in culture, language, food, art, and so much more that this wonderful city has to offer. If you’ve been following my time here, then you’ve heard a little about what I’ve been doing.

Learn more